PHOTO BY RICH HOOPS May 18 view from the Thomas Pecorelli bench thatâ€™s just 100 feet or so off the fire road above Trippet 1. May 18 view from the Thomas Pecorelli bench thatâ€™s just 100 feet or so off the fire road above Trippet Ranch Visitor Center and looking towards Palisades Highlands. There was still smoke rising from the embers and about a dozen fire trucks nearby.
Welcome to Memorial Day weekend where, with full hearts we pause to honor and remember those who have fallen in the Great Wars, as well as those who fought and survived but not without consequences. Freedom comes at a heavy price. It shouldnâ€™t, but it does.
We in Topanga just survived another fire and are yet again grateful to the many warriors who fought and won the battle against the Palisades Fire last weekend. We, as residents who choose to live in this high-fire area, are also warriors. Our job is to identify and prevent sparks that can escalate into conflagration. War.
Over the last year, we have fought the Great Pandemic war, where we lost 584,975 Americans so far. In its Daily Tracker, the CDC reports that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are going down and the number of people vaccinated continues to go up, providing a sense of optimism as summer approaches. We didnâ€™t have to lose more than half a million Americans to a virus had we recognized the signs and took early action. We had the toolsâ€”public information (truth), masks, PPEs, vaccinesâ€”but not the leadership to employ them.
Americans have also been waging wars against each other as the ugly boils of racism, bigotry, subliminal and blatant prejudice rise violently to the surface to spew forth hatred and hurt.
America, itself, is under siege by its own people, by enemies both foreign and domestic, so hungry for power that they ignore the oaths they took and mislead the people they are there to serve. That was an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The attack and its aftermath threaten our Democracy, which the Constitution founders went to great lengths to protect. We are a republic, Benjamin Franklin said, â€śâ€¦if we can keep it.â€ť
What I still see, howeverâ€”and bless this Topanga community for maintaining their moral compassâ€”is the good in people. I see hard workers with strong spines and generous spirits who offer a hand up in times of adversity.
Maybe humans are meant to confront adversity because wars of all sortsâ€”bullies in schools, domestic abuse, gun violence, voter suppression, and centuries, no eons of oppression, i.e., manâ€™s inhumanity to manâ€”seem never to go away.
Take the lessons of war home and think about how we, in our own lives, can deflect and avoid the war zone. Reflect on President Bidenâ€™s â€śquiet diplomacyâ€ť to achieve a cease fire between Israel and Palestine, no matter how fragile. Citizens donâ€™t need to be in the spotlight to do their civic duty.
For now, remember your own and those who went before. Hug your children and say a prayer for those who lost theirs. The pain of loss never goes away, but the beauty of their lives lingers as long as we remember and honor them.
As we wash away the fear, the ash and the grit of the fire; as we observe the devastation so close to home, dwell on this from Skipper Farley (Old Canyon), who posted:
â€śThe wildflowers will be unbelievable next spring.â€ť